PRINEVILLE, Ore. - A 34-year old transient was arrested Sunday afternoon after allegedly stealing a fully remodeled 1930 Ford Model "A" coupe and crashing it into the Crooked River along Highway 27 south of Prineville, Oregon State Police said.
The suspect was arrested after being treated for injuries at St. Charles Bend.
Shortly after 3 p.m., OSP troopers and local emergency responders were notified that a car had left Highway 27 near milepost 9 (SE Riverview Road) and landed in the Crooked River.
Prior to arrival, responding Crook County Fire & Rescue paramedics located a man near the scene who was identified by witnesses as the driver who swam from the Model A to shore.
The man, later identified as Erik Blake Halpin, 34, was taken by air ambulance to the Bend hospital, troopers said.
Investigators learned the car was reported stolen earlier that day to Prineville Police Department, which sent an officer to the scene to take a report on its recovery.
Witnesses also confirmed Halpin was seen driving the Model A before it went off the roadway and rolled into the river. A tow company recovered the car from the water.
After being treated and released at the hospital, an OSP trooper took Halpin into custody on charges of DUII, unauthorized use of a vehicle, first-degree criminal mischief and failing to perform the duties of a driver in an accident.
Halpin also was cited and released to appear in Klamath County Circuit Court on a misdemeanor warrant of failure to appear in court.
He was lodged in the Crook County Jail and later released under the jail's matrix due to crowding, an officer said.
Prineville police Capt. Michael Boyd said the car was stolen from a church parking lot on NE Third Street in Prineville around 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Boyd said the victim, a 79-year-old Crook County resident, drove the Model A coupe to church to show it off. It was stolen when he left it there while he got a bite of lunch.
"Such a shame," Boyd told NewsChannel 21. "By all accounts, the car was in very good shape."